Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What Will You Be Doing When You're 84?

If you're anything like my mom, who turned 84 on Saturday, you'll still be taking big old waffle-sized bites out of life.

A few months ago, she started taking organ lessons. She has always wanted to play the piano or organ, and instead of taking lessons herself decades ago, she made her four kids take piano lessons. None of us kept playing, of course, because we suck. And because we weren't in love with it. I could not possibly be in love with it because my piano teacher, Francis, had such a distracting and grotesque mustache. I could not focus on her bits of musical wisdom because each time she spoke there was a definite Fuller Brush thing going on. I quit my lessons soon after we got to the "use both hands" part.

Mom now plays "Tiny Bubbles" with panache, and she is living out one of those lost dreams that got packed up into the mothballs.

Here, in tribute to her, are a couple of her illuminating sayings:

1. "All you do when you get old is sit around and grow things you don't need. Tumors, corns, bunyons, bone spurs, cysts, stiff hairs on your chin, moles, lumps, ingrown toenails..." (I'll stop here, although she went on for a good 2 minutes.)

2. "That kid should have been drowned when he was born." (A scathing critique reserved for the worst of kids; originating with our neighbor Tom, who rode his bike by our house and, with a squirt-gun, shot ammonia into our German Shepherd's mouth.)

Nothing about my mother has ever impressed me as much as her bitchslapping pioneer woman ways. On the farm where I grew up, we were regularly visited by snakes. Big fat horrible black snakes, hungry for the juicy rodent delicacies they could find in the fields and grain bins. For as long as I can remember, my mother has shown no snake any mercy. More than once when I was an impressionable young girl, Mom would be out hoe-ing in her flowerbed in the front yard, and would see a black snake slithering among the hedges up against the front porch. She would stop her gentle care of the flowers and turn her blade on the serpent. Without so much as a deep breath to prepare her for battle, she would start chopping that f*cker's head off. It would take 3 or 4 whacks, her blade whizzing through the air and coming down with a thud into the unsuspecting neck of the slithery one.

When she had finally offed the "ugly bastard," she would pick it up by the "tail," carry it across the road to the creek, and unceremoniously toss the headless corpse into the water. Then, back to the waiting flowers.

Perhaps there are few things that will stick with a girl more than watching her mother perform a primitive Lorena Bobbitt on a 6-foot-long phallic symbol.

Just 3 years ago, when she was 81, we were all pitching in to clean out the enormous tool shed in order to sell the farmhouse and move Mom and Dad into the condo where they are now. A snake appeared. My brother had made the mistake of disturbing it by lifting up an ancient, disintegrating piece of cardboard. My brother is a big guy, and not a wussie. But when he sees a snake, his balls wither to the size of two beads on the necklace of a dust mite. He slammed the cardboard back down and as he was taking some me-time to let his bowels turn to water, Mom came calling. With a two-by-four.

And although they had witnessed brutality like this before, my brothers gained new respect for the woman who saved their nancy-boy selves with somewhere around two dozen blunt whacks of the two-by-four.

When I asked her, later on, what that snake had ever done to her, she looked at me like I was spouting lava out the top of my head and said "He came in my shed."


  • At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Eew. Snakes. Totally unholy creatures. No legs, but they can move like crazy ON LAND.

    I'm waiting impatiently for Part II of this blog entry. I'm "jonsing" for more mom-isms.


  • At 12:24 AM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Yes, CK, snakes are from the back alleyways of hell.

    If I remember more mom stuff, I'll certainly pass it along. Although she may beat me to death with a mop.

  • At 12:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your mom rocks. Remind me never to p!ss her off.


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